Papal appointee Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, depicted on a 2017 self-commissioned and self-designed mural fresco in the Cathedral of the Italian Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, in close embrace with another homosexual, apparently outside the net of elect, yet saved by Christ’s infinite mercy. In spite of her abundant forms and ample make-up, the sexually attractive lady just above Paglia does not seem to arouse much of his interest — although the artist leaves it to the faithful’s chaste imagination where exactly Paglia’s right hand might have ended up. Meanwhile (June 27, 2021), Pope Francis sent a letter from his twitter account, @Pontifex, to his Jesuit colleague James Martin, “on the occasion of the Outreach LGBTQ Catholic Ministry Webinar, expressing his support for this ministry and encouraging us to imitate God’s style of closeness, compassion and tenderness”.
Is Pope Francis heretic?
Yes, and formally so. His views on justification are Lutheran, not Catholic. Pope Francis invokes his interpretation of Luther as a foundation for his equally heretic proposal that concubines (of either sex) have the right to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Is Pope Francis the first Pope to be formally heretic?
No he is not. Seventh century Pope Honorius was formally heretic, too. Like Pope Honorius during his life, Pope Francis is still eligible for canonical heresy. The latter occurs when formal heresy is confirmed by a dogmatic condemnation.
Is Pope Francis smart?
Until today, his policy has been consistent, persuasive, and successful.
Is Pope Francis the anti-Christ?
Not quite. Pope Francis certainly aims at destroying the legacy of his two predecessors, whence the “anti”-part certainly qualifies; the Christ-part is out of his league, though.
Is Pope Francis anti-rational?
It seems so. Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI emphatically taught the rationality of the Catholic faith. They defended that rationality with multiple writings of their own hand. Pope Francis did not produce a single rational document yet. Rather, he seems to aim at destroying the rationality of the Catholic faith. To this end, he issued a Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb. This document reads like an erratic list of slogans, rather than a systematic development of an argument. Instead of suggesting that Islam and Christianity are two equally valid religious options, why did the Pope not propose to condemn religiously motivated intolerance and harassment, for being evil in God’s eyes, and supposedly so, in Allah’s eyes, too? That would have been a real advancement in the relations between Rome and Mecca. But most probably, in Allah’s eyes, conversion to Christianity is a higher evil than religious harassment. If that were the case, what use is it to issue a document suggesting the equality of religions?
Quite conspicuously, the document states that the plurality of beliefs is not less acceptable to God than the plurality of color, sex, race and language. According to the Catholic faith, God wills that all human beings are free to choose their own religion, from Catholicism all the way down to Satanism. God allows erring religions, not because these would be good in themselves, but only for the sake of free choice. This is not the case for the plurality of color, sex, race and language: these, God wills because they are good in themselves. For this reason, the plurality sentence from the document is confusing. It suggests that Cain’s religion was as as good as was Abel’s in God’s eyes. Did God wish Cain to offer the worst of his flock? No, because that was an offense to God, rather than an act of worship. So why did God allow Cain to offer the worst? Not because that offer was morally good, but because God loves Cain’s freedom more than the he hates the evil such freedom produces. There are more religions than Cain’s and Abel’s, though. Satanism is a religion, too. The plurality sentence from the document suggests that God wills Satanism for itself. That is an obvious heresy: God indulges Satanism for a higher good, which God wills for itself: the free will of his creatures.
Does Honorius’ canonical heresy constitute a case against Papal Infallibility?
Of course not. Papal infallibility is not the impossibility of a Pope proclaiming heresies. Papal infallibility is the impossibility of a Pope proclaiming a heresy dogmatically. Among the many heresies proclaimed by Pope Francis to this date, none was proclaimed dogmatically. A dogmatic pronouncement satisfies three strict and easily verifiable formal rules: it must be made by a lawful Pope, it must bear on faith or morals, and it must be solemnly proclaimed as such, ‘ex cathedra’.
Does Francis’ heresy constitute a case against the legitimacy of his Papacy?
Of course not. A Pope is legitimate when his election was legitimate. Pope Francis’ election, although not clean, was not dirty enough to consider it as illegitimate.
Do the Dubia constitute evidence of Francis’ canonical heresy?
No they do not. They could eventually contribute to such evidence, were Pope Francis to formally answer those five Dubia in any other fashion than Nay, Aye, Aye, Aye, Aye.
Is it possible, canonically, that Pope Francis be declared heretic during his life?
No. The Canon Law of the Catholic Church does not provide any means of legal prosecution. It is not excluded that, in the future, such a law might be promulgated. Obviously, that law would not apply to Francis’ pontificate.
This question has far reaching theological consequences, concerning the nature of Papacy. From the history of Papacy, it is obvious that the Pope does not wield a Monarchic power over the global Church. The Pope does wield a Monarchic rule in the diocese of Rome, in exactly the same fashion as Bishops rule monarchically in their respective dioceses. On the other hand, the Pope is not a mere ‘primus inter pares’ (first among peers), as if he would be just a chairman of the global conference of Bishops. As Catherine of Siena put it, he is ‘il dolce Cristo in terra’ (the sweet Christ on earth), and as such, more than a mere symbol of unity, universality, and unicity of the Church. Most importantly, the Pope is infallible in the ex cathedra sense stated above. Canon law should reflect both the special status of the Pope, and the Monarchic rule of the Bishop. It is not clear how this can be achieved, and the history of the Church shows that different postures have been proposed. The two extremes might be called Conciliarism and Papal Monarchism. Conciliarism originated in the 14th century. It holds that the supreme authority in the Church resides with an Ecumenical council, apart from, or even against, the Pope. The movement emerged in response to the Western Schism between rival popes in Rome and Avignon. It was eventually condemned in the Fifth Lateran Council (1512–17). The doctrine of Papal Infallibility was promulgated in the First Vatican Council (1870). This definition being dogmatic, it implies that it does not refer to a new disciplinary rule, but rather to an inherent property which has always existed in the Catholic Church. For example, Pope Pius IX invoked Papal Infallibility in his 1854 definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and throughout the history of the Church, conciliary definitions acquired dogmatic status only after confirmation of a legal Pope (not necessarily the Pope who initiated the Council). Among all Popes of the history of the Church, Pope Francis no doubt belongs to the category of Monarchic-authoritarian rulers. This is an abuse of Papacy, typical of Popes with a personal agenda. Clearly, Pope Francis will never make it to promulgating a dogma in that direction. If that were the case, the Church would not be a divine institution, but a merely human one.
Why does Pope Francis refuse to answer to the Dubia?
Those who defend Pope Francis’ posture seem to agree that the Dubia transpire a lack of respect for the Pope. This seems like a rather emotional argument. It might be true, it might be false — fact is, that the tone of the Dubia does not matter in the least. It is like saying: “Yeah, I would have agreed with Einstein’s relativity theories, had he not advanced them so bluntly”. As a matter of fact, the Pope already answered those Dubia informally, both in written and orally. His behavior is sometimes disparagingly called ‘Jesuitical’. The Pope’s Jesuitical stance towards the Dubia writers reminds of that towards president Donald Trump: “I never accused anybody specific. I only said that a man who builds walls rather than bridges, does not deserve to be called Christian.”
Francis’ Heretic Predecessor
Pope Honorius I reigned from 27 October 625 to his death, 12 October 638. He was posthumously anathematized for subscribing to the Christological heresy called Monotheli(ti)sm, which is a mitigated version of Monophysi(ti)sm. This older heresy claims a single nature in the person of Christ, while Catholic dogma claims two: ‘perfectus Deus, perfectus Homo’. It had been condemned almost two centuries earlier (AD 451), in the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (Bithynia, modern day Kadıköy, Turkey). The new heresy was an attempt of the Byzantine Patriarch (Sergius of Constantinople) to provide the Byzantine Emperor (Flavius Heraclius) with a new creed which might unite eastern and western Christendom under one flag — the Byzantine, obviously. It is difficult to believe that Honorius did not see the ruse. Was it a mere lack of wits, as one prays is the case with Pope Francis? We shall not know in this world, thanks to God. Fact is that Honorius defended Sergius’ proposal, according to which there were indeed two natures in Christ (human and divine), but both were moved by a single free will (divine). This is a quite interesting proposal from a philosophical point of view. The immediate scriptural challenge of this proposal, however, is posed by Christ’s prayer in the Mount of Olives: “not my will, but thine be done” (Lk 22:42). In order for Jesus’ suffering to be real suffering, there must have been an unsurmountable conflict between his human will and God’s will. Hence, the theological perspective leaves little choice. Christ’s suffering was real, else He would have deceived us by such a prayer, and by his human appearance. One may even adduce the refusal of the Pharisees and Sadducees to accept Christ as a Savior: had they not been thoroughly convinced of Jesus’ perfect humanity —not in the sense of any specific perfection, like running 100 meter under 9 seconds, but in the sense of his humanity being genetically complete—, but instead, would they have considered Jesus as a kind of extraterrestrial ghost, then what would have been the obstacle to believing his divine origin? Consequently, there must have been two sources of free will in Christ, and it is only too reasonable that Honorius’ approval of Monthelism was to be condemned soon. This indeed happened August 9th 681, in the 16th session of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III (Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, vol. XI, col. 622). There, it is stated unambiguously that Monophysism and Monothelism both undervalue the human nature in Christ. The much older heresy called Arianism, which denied the divine nature in Christ, was already condemned in 325, at the First Ecumenical Council (Nicaea I). Pope Agatho reigned for only three years and died before he could ratify the Sixth Ecumenical Council. This is of crucial importance, as the Ecumenical decisions do not acquire dogmatic status unless approved by a legally reigning Pope. Agatho’s successor, Pope Leo II, ratified the Council, in a letter written to Emperor Constantine IV on May 7th 683 (Mansi, XI, col. 733). In the year 622, Maximus the Confessor died, a couple of months after having been tortured at the orders of the very Orthodox Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople, who had Maximus’ tongue and right hand cut off for confessing two natures in Christ: quite a crime, apparently. Leo’s condemnation of Honorius would be confirmed twice: AD 789 in Nicaea (Seventh Ecumenical Council), ratified by Pope Hadrian I, and AD 870 in Constantinople (Eighth Ecumenical Council), ratified by Pope Hadrian II. In the 16th century, Robert Bellarmine (Italian Jesuit, theologian, Cardinal, and Saint) denied any explicit errors in Honorius’ letters, thereby initiating an historic-theological confusion that persists to this very date. For more details on Bellarmine’s dubious move I refer to the historical review by Roberto de Mattei, originally published in Italian.
Francis’ Informal Answers to the Dubia
In December 2016, Dr. John Lamont wrote a thorough review of Francis’ answers to the Dubia. He categorizes those answers in [A, E, F] personally handled appointments of political activists in the Roman Curia, [B, D] personally written official documents (e.g., the composition of the Relatio post disceptationem for the Synod on the Family, and an official letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires, confirming their ‘only possible interpretation of’ Amoris Laetitia), [C, G] interviews, and [H] a 2016 homily pronounced in the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund (Sweden) on justification. In all these occasions, it is clear that Francis’ answers to the Dubia do not coincide with emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s. The latter were identified, among others, by Elizabeth Mitchell. Short of distinguished Catholic theologians, Catholicism apparently needs a Dean of Students for a private K-12 Catholic independent school in Wisconsin to identify these basic theological notions (I mean no disrespect to no smart, accomplished, and beautiful lady).
Francis’ Disappointing Appointments
Not only did Pope Francis personally intervene to appoint a splendid collection of schismatic Cardinals (Kasper, Danneels, Schönborn, Tettamanzi, Rodríguez Maradiaga, Martinez Sistach, Damasceno Assis, Tagle, and Dew): he even granted Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia the presidency of two Pontifical Institutes (Pontifical Academy for Life, and Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family). In 2017, Paglia commissioned an Argentinean homosexual artist (Ricardo Cinalli) to paint a mural fresco in the Cathedral of the Italian Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, which Christ Himself would no doubt have torn down on the spot: the fresco conspicuously fails to acknowledge the existence of hell, and instead represents an ode to the very behavior which God, less than four millennia ago, saw no other option than to punish with total extermination (Genesis, chapters 18 and 19). The contemporary high priest of degeneracy, Pope Francis, presently harvests the consequences of his policy: large part of the German episcopate smelled the opportunity to apostatize, and Italian politics to push legislation in direct opposition to the constitutional right of free expression. Unexpected consequences? Hardly. Walter Mayr, the Rome correspondent of the German magazine Der Spiegel, reported in December 2016 that, in a very small circle, Pope Francis self-critically commented: ‘It is not to be excluded that I will enter history as the one who split the Catholic Church’. If this claim is true, Pope Francis’ fear turned out to be prophetical.
Had Pope Francis been an evil person, then everything would have been so much simpler. The problem is that, probably and hopefully, he is not evil. He just happens to have a pathologically twisted view of reality. He believes all those present-day fancies, which in medieval times were more properly called superstitions: semi-religious ideas which cannot be disproven formally, but which defy common sense. The climate myth is a case in point. That myth does not qualify as a superstition anymore, because it has been debunked scientifically: whence it qualifies as a mental insanity, rather than as a superstition. Corona measures started out as a superstition, because initially (spring 2020) there were no scientific data. More than one year later, scientific data leave not a shred of doubt: (i) although there was a slight increase in mortality in rich countries, there was definitely no pandemic in 2020; (ii) 1.5 meter social distancing and face diapers had no effect at all on reducing excess mortality, neither locally nor globally; (iii) the corona virus was taken from a harmless bat virus, and genetically modified with the explicit goal of harming human beings. Given these scientifically established facts, the two mentioned standard corona measures are not instances of superstition, but of mental insanity: the statistics show that they served no other purpose but ruining a country’s economy. Obviously, targeted isolation of infection hoards, specifically where elderly are concerned, was and remains mandatory: however, imposing 1.5 meter social distancing and face diapers is insane. The Pope does not (wish to) see that both hoaxes (climate and corona) come from a single enemy, who happens to own the mainstream media. Instead of waging war on this ultra-rich mafia which by all means tries to imprison humanity, the Pope wages war on ‘rich clerics’ who per capita possess but a fraction of such wealth (I estimate the per capita wealth fraction is of the order of 10^-7), thereby shamelessly showing off his hypocritical poverty — he could have taken that decision without seeking the expected positive publicity. Instead of defending numerous families, who are being scorned and stolen systematically, the Pope aspires to the price of popularity by pointing out that Catholics do not need to breed like rabbits, while shamelessly praising the lifestyle and ‘ecclesiastical charism’ of mental zombies who care for nothing but their orgasm. Instead of defending the right of a nation to determine its own future, the Pope systematically focuses on the very international misery that Soros and co-criminals fund and exploit to destabilize democracies, thereby shamelessly showing off his hypocrite refugee-charity. Instead of defending courageous fighters against abusive abortion funding, the Pope attacks president Trump. The latter did more for the Catholic Church in the oval office, than the Pope would be able to do on his Unholy See in a lifetime. Sure, Trump built a wall. Did Netanyahu not do likewise? I do not remember the Pope ever having mentioned an Israeli wall on Palestinian territory, on the occasion of the dozens of chats they had together. I do not mean to critically assess either Palestinian or Israeli politics here: I only question the Pope’s common sense, and I surmise that the latter fails due to the Pope’s peculiar psychology. Sure, Bergoglio grew up in a country affected by enormous social injustice, which led many theologians to forget Jesus’ reminder that poverty is inherent to (the fallen nature of) mankind. But that is not sufficient reason to endorse liberation theology, which is a cheap mockery of Jesus’ Redemption. Sure, Bergoglio did not like to operate under the shadow of a saintly emeritus Pope, successor of a great saint. But that is not sufficient reason to harass Benedict XVI, first by implacably requiring the destruction of his Fisherman ring (which only needed a scratch), then by trying to silence him, and finally by frankly opposing him (e.g. on celibacy, with Cardinal Robert Sarah).
The legacy which Pope Francis seeks to destroy is a defining characteristic of Christianity, to wit, its grand unification of faith and reason. Christianity is the only religion which claims inherent rationality, in the sense that both faith and morality are not only compatible with, but based on reason. The Christian Holy Scripture is primarily an historic account, the truth of which can only be grasped rationally, and whenever required, scientifically. This is a huge contrast with Islam: the Qur’an is not at all an historic account, but primarily a set of rules, meant to order Muslim society. This set of rules is overtly inconsistent, as it reflects the Prophet’s incompatible positions before and after his military triumphs. In this sense, the Qur’an is the antithesis of the Holy Scripture, and Islam the antithesis of Christianity. In his brilliant Regensburg lecture, Pope Benedict XVI explains why early Christianity assimilated Hellenism so eagerly: because the apex of Greek philosophy aimed at giving a rational explanation of morality (Socrates), politics (Plato) and logic (Aristotle). No sooner had Christian philosophers reached the fullness of philosophical rationality, with Thomas Aquinas’ synthesis, which also included Aristotle’s natural scientific works, and Christian sophism entered the scene, with Ockham’s nominalism. This culminated in the protestant scission, which introduced the irrationality of the nature of the Holy Scripture for the sake of an equally irrational conception of justification. Protestantism views the Holy Scripture in the Islamic way: as a word fallen down from heaven. Catholicism does not. The only ‘things which fell down from heaven’ according to Catholic faith, are the Stone Tablets and Christ Himself: Holy Scripture, as holy as it is, is nothing but a —divinely inspired— human selection of human writings. Protestantism considers, erroneously, that all revelation is contained in the Holy Scripture only (sola Scriptura), while there is no Scriptural basis for such a belief (see, e.g., A Father Who Keeps His Promisesby Scott Hahn). After Protestantism new heresies emerged. There is a clear tendency in the history of heresies: the newer, the more irrational they are. In 1789 and 1888, Pope Leo XIII published the Encyclical Letters Aeterni Patris, and Libertas Praestantissimum. In the latter, he considered liberty as the foremost (praestantissimum) of natural endowments, proper exclusively to intellectual and rational natures (“intellectual” and “rational natures” is philosophical code language for God and angels, and humans, respectively). Leo XIII was an excellent philosopher. In only a few paragraphs (numbers 3-8), he describes the philosophical foundation of the Christian world view. This framework lays bare the inconsistencies in Lutheranism, and in its mitigated version, called Jansenism after its Dutch author; Jansenius rejected the Lutheran doctrine of assurance, according to which it is impossible to lose one’s state of grace, but held that grace operates without individual assent. By the way, the Catholic Church owes the efficient condemnation of the Jansenist heresy to Jesuit theologians, who proved its theological inconsistency on the basis of Augustine’s writings. Jansenism eventually gave way to Kant’s rationalism and Bentham’s utilitarianism, both of which have been proven to be inconsistent by their own followers. In his elaborate 1998 Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II provides an historical review of the Catholic synthesis of faith and reason. He quotes Pope Leo XIII’s 1879 Encyclical Letter Aeterni Patris (“the one papal document of such authority devoted entirely to philosophy”), Pope Pius X’s 1907 Encyclical Letter Pascendi Dominici Gregis (rejecting Modernism), Pope Pius XI’s 1937 Encyclical Letter Divini Redemptoris (rejecting Marxism and Communism), and Pope Pius XII’s 1950 Encyclical Letter Humani Generis (rejecting evolutionism, existentialism, and historicism). Do Popes always reject new theories? Certainly not. Only two years earlier, in 1996, Pope John Paul II had unequivocally asserted the solidity of the genetic theory of evolution. This is remarkable for two reasons. First, the majority of Catholic theologians was opposed to that theory, and second, it would seem, prima facie, that Pope John Paul II were significantly transgressing his theological boundaries by pronouncing on a strictly biological theory. Remarkable it was indeed. Not only did evolution wipe its competition, the so-called ‘young-earth creationism’. John Pauls’ ruling went much further than mere biology. In his reasons for opting in favor of evolution, John Paul II in fact pronounced in favor of the autonomy of all sciences. As the Catholic faith considers all truth, scientific and religious, to issue from a single source, there can be no rational contradiction between faith and science; whence it supposes no loss of control by the Catholic hierarchy to declare scientific investigation as a fully autonomous discipline, totally independent of religious convictions. The courage and prophetical insight of John Paul II’s Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences concerning evolution was equaled only by Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 brilliant address to the representatives of science of the University of Regensburg. In that address, Pope Benedict XVI quotes 11th century Muslim philosopher Ibn Hazm of Córdoba, “who went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us; were it God’s will, we would even have to practice idolatry”. This typically Islamic view of divine caprice, which in the end is an undervaluation of God’s gift of reason to man in an otherwise honorable and pious attempt to assert God’s absolute transcendence over everything created, was flatly countered by the typically Greek concept of John’s Gospel, the prologue of which starts with the amazing words ‘in the beginning was the logos’. Benedict comments: “Logos means both reason and word a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis”. This is the most beautiful claim of the rational nature of Christian worship I have ever read. In following paragraphs, Benedict describes Reformation as a first stage in a ‘Dehellenization’ process of which we today witness the third. Next, he ridicules Immanuel Kant by asserting that the latter “anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole”. In a single sentence, Benedict unmasks the prophet of rationality as an obscurantist, who sought to send moral philosophy back into the caves of unintelligibility: that, in the name of enlightenment. These are six generations of Popes, who declare in full continuity with their predecessors. After so many expressions of the deepest faith in rationality, by so many Popes of impressive intellectual caliber, comes an intellectual dwarf, who sustains that everybody is to some extent right in his own personal beliefs. Politically correct, no doubt, and very moving at that; but nonetheless heretic.